CAMPFIRE STORY - Odyssey Teen Camp
In August 2020, like most camps, Odyssey Teen Camp was struggling to recover from a summer that never happened. However, instead of looking back, OTC chose to embark on a marketing odyssey with Campfire Creative Marketing to stabilize and advance its future.
Some may think this was bad timing. Why put the effort into marketing when so many unknowns lurked?
History proves that businesses that maintain or increase their marketing expenditures during adverse times average significantly higher growth, both during and after, an unstable environment.* It was a smart business decision for OTC to invest in its marketing during COVID-19. There was time to focus, reflect, and build momentum for the future. Their decision to invest in marketing proved successful far beyond their expectations.
The first step of this process was to analyze and audit OTC’s marketing. CCM discovered the camp’s core messages and positioning were not clearly identified. We conducted a communication strategy session with key staff members, board members, and the owner of the camp. After a full-day workshop, on Zoom of course, CCM clearly identified OTC’s values and their differentiators. CCM crafted core messages based on the outcomes of the session and developed branding guidelines for all internal and external communications.
Once we got to the heart of what makes OTC special, CCM laid the groundwork for long and short-term marketing goals. A marketing plan and action calendar were implemented and creative conceptualization began.
OTC had recently become a nonprofit organization. One important goal was to raise $50,000 by the end of the year to go towards camper scholarships and to offset the COVID protocol costs. Once our strategies were finalized, we launched a crowdsourcing campaign, virtual fundraising events, and sought out grant opportunities. By January, we raised $90,000 for Odyssey Teen Camp, almost double their goal.
While the fundraising efforts were in motion, CCM worked on camper recruitment. During times of crisis, it is imperative to stay in touch with your clients and staff. Through email, digital brochures, social media, web presence, virtual events, and direct mail, OTC kept families and friends informed about Summer 2021 and the future of camp. Parenting Facebook groups were established to alleviate questions and concerns, and as summer approached virtual open houses were held each month.
The constant communication and consistent branding paid off. As registration opened the cabins filled quickly. In its 20 year history, OTC averaged 150 campers each summer. In 2021, 486 campers attended OTC. An extra week of camp was added at the end of the summer to accommodate additional campers. Five teenagers benefited from full scholarships, while over 50 others received financial aid.
During uncertain times, when there may be a temptation to cut back, moving forward with marketing strategies is essential. CCM implemented a plan, evaluated ongoing strategies, and changed course when necessary, ensuring that OTC was prepared for Summer 2021 and whatever uncertainty the future holds.
*U.S. recessions, McGraw-Hill Research
CAMPFIRE STORY - Camp Keshet
CAMPFIRE STORY - Shwayder Camp
Shwayder Camp in Colorado has been established since 1949. They are a privately owned camp that always offered two-week sessions throughout the summer. They contacted Campfire Creative Marketing in the fall of 2017. Instead of two-week sessions, they were going to begin offering three-week sessions. Shwayder was concerned there would be negative feedback from existing families resulting in a loss of attendance. They wanted to get ahead of any rumors and minimize opposition.
Instead of focusing on the length of the sessions, we chose to highlight all of the additional changes that would positively impact the campers. As a result of spending more time at camp, kids would enjoy customized schedules, additional activities, and more time to bond with friends. The camp was also unveiling new facilities with state-of-the-art amenities. Campers could look forward to a brand new recreation center, a climbing wall, sports courts, and modern cabins.
By changing the attention to these new opportunities we were able to roll out a campaign titled “Best Summer Ever”. We tapped into Shwayder’s database and used email marketing to reach existing and potential families. We organized parent meetings with question and answer sessions. A direct mail campaign reinforced the messaging and reminded parents of important registration dates. We sent each camper a Shwayder bracelet as a token of appreciation. Lastly, the use of social media was a key factor for staying in touch. Pictures on Instagram brought back memories for campers, and Facebook allowed us to highlight activities, renovations, and important dates.
The campaign was a huge success. Shwayder experienced no fallout from the changes in 2018 and earned a double-digit percentage increase in revenue. Campers embraced the longer schedule and parents felt like they were in the loop and well informed. Shwayder was pleased with the results and Summer 2018 proved to be the Best Summer Ever!